Sunday, May 27, 2007


-three little bean bags lined up with a baby doll asleep on them
-nine lego creations built for me lined up on the window sill, one with Eva loves mommy written on it in permanent ink
-a baggie with lemonade in it, in the freezer, just to see what happens
-a doll sized teacup with sugar and ice cubes frozen in the freezer, to see how to make sugar ice
-little bowls of flowers on the table
-a jar with holes punched in the top and little bugs inside
-a bionicle standing up on some pillows, pointing his weapon at a fortress on the slide
-a slide in the living room
-lego guys using the spider plant vines as vines to swing on
-planting turnip and bean seeds in the middle of the grass as a surprise for me (and the turnips are thriving and I mow around them)
-stuffed tiger sleeping on bed of blocks and play silks (also near the slide in the living room)
-two water balloons in the refrigerator to save
-a bag of ice from the winter when we had ice to remember when we don't

Friday, May 25, 2007

A visit from Sparrow

Just when I think there is NOT a lot going on around here, I take inventory and look around. We are looking after a friend's boxer for about elevenish days. Sparrow has been our house guest before on several occasions and I would say this time is running the most smoothly- so far! As a young boxer, actually as a boxer... Sparrow has quite a bit of energy. She has reserves past most of us in this house, although on this visit the kids are really playing with her quite a bit, more so than on other visits because Eva is less worried about being licked and Samuel is just discovering how much fun he can have running around with her. They have played fun games before, they just seem to be going on longer and throughout the day this time around. (Right now our dog Jack is wrestling with her on the sleeping bags Eva put out in the living room and Eva is running around pretending to be a baby boxer and asking me just how much energy a baby boxer would have! And now Samuel and Eva are going to throw bean bags at each other.)

Sparrow joins in with Eva and her babies after the big tea party. Nothing like a sleeping bag on the floor!

Samuel and I looked at a few Rube Goldberg contraptions today to give him some inspiration for his own contraption building. Samuel wants to build a cage out of wooden posts with string wound around them for bars. We do not have any wooden posts and there lies the problem and the need for further inspiration. I think it is wiser for me not to ask at this time who he is planning to put into the cage.
Honda's Rube Goldberg
Star Wars Rube Goldberg
Rube Goldberg Machines

Eva had two tea parties today- one with her animals and Samuel (as a last minute guest) and one with me. We had decaf green tea with lots of sugar and watermelon (which is showing up in the grocery store but which I would like to point out is really NOT in season in Oregon until August). Our tea party was interrupted several times to go out to the yard and haul Sparrow inside. She is barking barking barking at the neighbors dog, who is this sweet little black mix named Roxy and who I do not want Sparrow to bark and lunge and charge at. Roxy just stands wagging her talk looking a little confused because she normally just gets sweet talk and tail wags from Jack from our side of the fence.

Here is a photo of Eva climbing what she can find, wherever she can find it! This time our gate in the back yard.

We went fishing the other day with Samuel's new fishing pole he received as a Christmas gift from Grandma and Grandpa Pearson. Samuel has been waiting and waiting and also debating what he would do with the fish when he caught it. Well, the fish has a little more time to decide also because we didn't catch anything THIS TIME! He spent a good bit of time taking us from one point to another to find a good spot and then practiced reeling the line in and casting it out several times. We also adjusted the hook, the bobbing thing and the weight several times. What I learned is that when we go fishing, I spend a lot of time adjusting the fishing line. But! not as much time as when we tried it out last year and this new pole is really wonderful because it actually works (in the sense that when you reel it up, it comes up and when you cast it out, it casts out!) I did not get a picture, but don't worry- Samuel has other fishing plans in the works, including going fishing with a picnic lunch, because as he says, it isn't very much fun sitting there all hungry waiting for the fish!

And of course, I did not forget to include a photo of our recent bounty from our garden. Lot of chard, kale, peppermint and spearmint for sun tea, chives, chive flowers, onions and onion flowers. Tonight we had chard and kale with chickpeas and cilantro over tortellini. Oh and the big new is our first strawberries! And sure enough we are not the only ones. The u-picks say they are out as well so we will be heading out to pick strawberries for sure in the next couple of days!

This is the amazing lavender in our front yard!

I just read in You Grow Girl that people used to think there was a strong matriarch in the house if you had a large and thriving rosemary plant out front. Men would go out and smash down the rosemary plants in secret lest their friends catch sight of it! Here is our very healthy rosemary plant, right out front (wink).

Sunday, May 20, 2007

visual-spatial learning

So I was looking around at some other unschooling blogs yesterday and I found this wonderful site called Throwing Marshmallows. Her quote is really appropriate for unschooling- "Learning can only happen when a child is interested. If he’s not interested it’s like throwing marshmallows at his head and calling it eating.” - Anonymous.

She had some great information on visual-spatial learners. I recognized my Samuel in her description of her own son and was off taking the quiz she has listed to determine my own learning type. Turns out I am also a visual-spatial learner, which I suppose explains a lot. From what I have read about different learning types, I know that most people have a couple of ways to learn that are basic to them. This doesn't mean they can't learn things other ways. In fact, most adults have learned how to *learn* in many ways. The problem lies in how schools typically teach things to kids ONE way, mainly the left brained way, or through auditory-sequential learning. Which is fine if that is your primary way of learning. I managed just fine most of the time and adapted to this type of learning but boy do I remember some frustration. I also remember 4th grade as being fantastic and now I know it was because the teachers had us up and out and learning many different ways creatively and hands on. I suffered in Russian classes in college because they believed you had to learn the language by listening only and would not write the words on the board for me- the still unknown visual learner- to better understand. I didn't fully figure it out until I started birdwatching and lo and behold found it is easier for me to see the bird and identify it than by just hearing its song.

The long and short of it is that unschooling for me is partly about helping my kids understand how they learn things so they can better understand themselves and what they love to do, how they love to be. There is no one right way to do things and that includes learning.

Off to the library to get some more books about learning styles, oh and a couple of books on fairy tales too!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

plastics roundup day

Today is a really fun day! Every four or five months or so the Master Recyclers have a huge plastics roundup and you can take all of your plastics there to be recycled or even reused if it is something like a bucket or kids toy or we found a plastic kiddie pool to take home and also a giant rubber made container for legos- yeah! We left our kids basketball hoop this time and also a quite a bit- three bags- of miscellaneous plastic and also a bag of plastic bags and a bag of assorted numbered plastics. We leave out some plastics for our curbside recycling, but this is a limited amount. I also take some of our numbered plastics to the recycling center every month or so, as well as some plastic bags- although we use larger ones for trash bags. The Master Recyclers send all the plastic to a plant in Eugene that recycles all of it! I am particularly excited about the miscellaneous plastics they accept. All of those little plastic fasteners and lids and packaging without numbers can go there. And they take things like broken laundry baskets and big wheels and cd's and plant containers. All in all it is big fun for me and this was our third time there. The next one is not until October 6, 2007 and I am already assessing some of the bigger plastic items in my garage for the occasion!

We also found a couple of gigantic water shooters at the plastics roundup that someone must have brought in to recycle. We brought them home and Samuel had a lot of fun with one of them for a while and then its pump broke and now it doesn't function at all. We could not figure out how to load the water into the second one. Finally I looked online and found that this particular speed shooter needs an additional fill up device, so.... that one is not working either. But- the real fun was that we found out that Jack really loves the water guns too! At first he did not like the water because someone [accidentally?!] shot water at Jack and he came in and hid behind me. But when they went back out and were told to NOT shoot water at Jack, he began running at the water shooting out and it turned into a great game. He barked and jumped around and chomped at the water. Everyone was quite disappointed when the shooter broke for good!

After the roundup and the farmers market (hooray!) we had to pick Magoo up from the vet's office. She had some sort of accident or unknown medical event today and was not able to use her right front paw. She also lost most if not all of her vision. Magoo is complicated in that no one is sure how much she sees as it is and her head wobbles and she spins, but these symptoms were odd even for Magoo. Unfortunately the vet could not offer us much in the way of information about what happened to her. The good news is that she is doing better and I just found she had pushed Maxwell out of the way of his wet food and gobbled it up herself. She jumped up on the counter top and when she jumped down she only had a slight limp. I am hopeful.

The kids were a little wound up from all of that activity and decided to paint- a sure fire way to focus and change the mood. Here are some of the lovely paintings they created today.

Eva also made a 3-D flubber-apple extravaganza that she said was a sponge cake and which she also really wanted me to REALLY eat and pretend it was sponge cake all the while. I declined, respectfully, of course. She seemed ok with it and I noticed she also declined and did not eat her own creation!

And our lovely table with some magical irises just out in the garden. Behind them you see the new paintings and many bowls of flowers Eva brings in to me daily.

Samuel has been using the large cash register lately and is learning about how a calculator works. Like magic! He was so excited when I showed him how to use the "+" and "=" signs. We are also reading quite a few books on dinosaurs, as well as books on anteaters and one on armadillos. Today we read a book called Joe Cinders, a sort of Western male Cinderella. Samuel loved that one. I am flipping through many gardening books, as you may have well guessed. I have a couple more chamomile plants to add tomorrow, as well as yet another cucumber plant. The man at the market told me they aren't really supposed to be planted until the second half of May. He just keeps the plants there because people want to buy them. I thought this was strange but it did explain why none of the other cucumber plants have survived. I cross my fingers for this one!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

it's a radish!

I nearly forgot, we harvested our first radish. It seems we may have been able to harvest them before this. It is my first time growing radishes and I erred on the side of larger. So here is Eva looking very excited to try the radish and here is our first radish. It was about three inches long or more, maybe four! and when I went to check on the rest out in the garden I saw that there are some that are much larger. Unfortunately, Eva, who loves radishes in general and whose idea it was to plant them, spit this one out when she tried it. It is very spicy. This may be one reason why I have never grown radishes before. I ended up cooking the radish and its greens with some of our chard and kale and some pasta or something and it was delicious. It is also going to be great in chicken soup someday.

Up until this point we have been eating veggies from our garden that were planted last fall- the chard that the former owners planted and their wonderful onions. And of course I have had some borage tea, but the borage plants are all volunteers from last year as well. Harvesting the radish (and the kale!) marks the beginning of food from this year. We planted the radish seeds in February and the kale plants last month. How exciting!

flowers and plants

Well a mother couldn't ask for more flowers than I have blooming in the gardens around our house this spring. We have had constant blooms since the middle of February or before when the woods violets and crocuses started blooming in the front and backyard. Since then we have had bleeding hearts, rosemary, thyme, lavender, buttercups, tulips, daffodils, false Solomon's seal, trillium, azaleas, some kind of blueberry bush with luscious smelling flowers the bees just love, columbine and now irises, rhododendron, some kind of puffy flower bush, another ground cover with blue flowers, violets we planted out front, heather, another white flower vine in the front of the trees, beautiful red leaves on a large bush, not to mention the reddish flowers our big silver maple has, the color of the Japanese maple and now finally roses! And would you believe there is more to come that the former owner planted AND some the kids and I have planted, not to mention the mums we transplanted from our last place and of course the borage flowering away already with the vegetables, some strawberry plants already blooming, a few tomato blossoms. I planted some seeds for a cut flower garden for the kids to pick whenever they want. It smells heavenly when you walk outside the front or back and is amazingly beautiful.

We went on an edible plants walk yesterday with some friends. A friend opened her home and yard (located out in the Columbia Gorge in Washington) and showed us a few tasty plants, known to others as mainly weeds. It is sad that so much of our knowledge is lost to herbicides sprayed everywhere in an effort to preserve uniformity. I was happy to learn a little more about plants, the kids got to try some wood sorrel, Samuel braved the nettles and cut some for me to make tea and later we had lunch and they were able to play with friends. We came home with some daylilies, who I planted by the tomatoes and some lemon balm who I planted next to a large plot of mixed mint. Hooray!

Plants we learned about and tasted on the walk:
nettle (we have harvested nettle on our own on Sauvie Island and I drink it in tea. This is the first time I have seen it with flowers!)
cleavers(first time trying this one which is supposed to be great for your lymph system and liver)
day lily (you can eat the thick base and the bulbs)
wood sorrel(this is great and tastes green at first and then after chewing it is tart because of the oxalic acid)
miner's lettuce(glad to have this pointed out to me because it has been tricky for me to remember- tastes like a green!)
medicinal tansy(not the one they warn you about)
lemon balm(not wild but really good and I brought some home!)

The first of our Portland roses are in bloom. They surround our house in front and back and on the side near the patio. These little yellow ones are right out the front door. Eva hugs the flowers and wants in on the action of the picture taking!

These are our irises, who I love and who remind me of when I was growing up. There was a patch of irises that bloomed in the lilacs, but not every year and I never knew why. It was a real treat for me when they bloomed and no one else seemed to know they were there. I was thrilled to find so many in this yard. These, like many of the flowers and other plants in the yard, are native to the Pacific Northwest and so grow effortlessly, as they were intended!

The purple flowers, also natives, are columbine and a new flower for me. The park rangers at the nature preserve told me about them and gave me a little poster with pictures of native plants on it. Lovely!

Samuel and Eva pose for me as they go off with Daddy on a *mission*. I am not supposed to know they are going to look for gifts for me for Mother's Day. And at the same time I am supposed to know because they are excited and please. But if asked, I say nothing and talk about how excited I am to take a shower or a nap or something. It is a fine line to walk, being a mother.

This is an impromptu garden Eva and Samuel planted for me in a dirt patch in the lawn. No grass was growing there and it called out to them one fine spring day. And now, voila, there are turnips galore and a bean plant and Eva planted carrots too. I showed Samuel and he was dumbfounded. He said he didn't even mean for it to turn out. Amazing!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


Eva woke up and wanted to get all fancy. In this photo she is dressed up as an Indian Princess. You can't see because of the silk "bonnet" but she does have braids. We recently saw Pocahontas and Eva liked her, if not the movie so much.

Samuel enjoys the video feature of our new digital camera I was given for my birthday. He took a video of our cat Maxwell and was a little irritated that Maxwell wouldn't move. So the video, which is actually quite short, is really a video of a cat sleeping. I have to figure out how to put it up on the blog but don't worry, I will post it when I can!

park days

We spent part of the day today at the homeschool park day in our area. This is every Wednesday from May through September or later. Cook Park in Tigard fills up with homeschooling families. This is the first year we have tried it out and we enjoyed ourselves. I am hoping that we will continue to go fairly regularly to continue to connect with other homeschooling families. We had fun today playing with and talking to two other families we have become friends with.

Samuel has been trying out selling some of his toys on e-bay. He hopes to save up all of the money he makes to buy a most coveted Lego Star Wars Cloud City set. In fact yesterday he bid on one set for the first time and is very excited, wanting to check his status every hour or so to make sure no one has outbid him!

The kids have been learning quite a bit about dinosaurs lately. In our new edition of Zoo Tycoon you can choose different dinosaur species to put in the zoo. They have also been using the Walking With Dinosaurs software which shows videos and pictures and gives lots of information about what they eat and how they lives. In Zoo Tycoon they build an exhibit suited for the dinosaur and scientists bring them food. They get to see what carnivores eat, what insectivores eat, what herbivores eat. Not to mention all of the information about ecology and plants, types of water, etc. It is turning out to be a lot of fun.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

New Boots!

The big news is that Samuel got some new boots. For the first time ever he got cowboy boots. We bought them at this Western Store near the Powells by our house. Samuel picked out white boots with a silver tip and hopes to wear them during his riding lessons and just generally about the town. He still has his rubber boots and he said he will still wear those when he runs in the sprinkler and when we go for walks in the woods but the cowboy boots are THE boots for otherwear currently. I got a close-up of the boots and also a shot of Samuel (who did not want his photo taken and yet I cajoled him into it, not my usual motto, but I really wanted the picture for posterity because it was such a big deal!)

There is also a picture of Eva spinning- one of her favorite activities. She likes me to spin her and yet I can only spin for so long before I am too dizzy and she must carry on alone.

We got some awesome local beets at the Farmer's Market today and I made them with a little butter and some dill from our herb garden. I have never had beets so good. I have to say beets are a vegetable I shy away from. I actually prefer the greens, which I made with rice, onions from our very own garden! and cannelini beans and also lots of herbs from our garden- savory, oregano, thyme. After I read that thyme is this amazing elixir cure-that you can drink as a tea when you are sick to feel better or even stave off an illness, I put it in everything! Eva put some dill and thyme with little flowers on her new baby kangaroo so that he would smell nice and be pretty.

Oh and the funniest thing... I talk with the kids pretty frequently about buying local food, buying foods and doing things that are sustainable, etc. We buy a large percentage of our foods locally and even those that aren't locally grown or raised are at least sold by a local grocery we frequent. So Eva the other day was nursing and she stopped and looked up and said, Momma, is nursing local? And I laughed. Yes, it is very local. You can't get much more local. She smiled and resumed nursing!

And I am so excited I actually planted cranberry beans and they are sprouting out of the ground. My carrots never seem to come up but the beans are doing excellently. I have never grown them before and can't wait to see how they grow.

This is a great link to an article about kids and boredom. I put some of the ideas to work today with Samuel, who goes up and down so quickly sometimes and talks about being bored frequently. Today I realized that he really needed to be a part of what I was doing in an exciting way for him and that included cracking eggs, which is a new skill for him that he enjoys practicing. Sure enough he was off and running to something else after he had cracked a couple of eggs for me. I am attempting to approach boredom as another emotion, something that doesn't need to be solved but also something that can be addressed compassionately.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


I know people are ready for sunshine all the time at this time of year, but the plants growing in the yard really appreciate the rain (and have you smelled the air- amazing!). The cranberry bean seeds are sprouting already! Samuel planted some turnips as a surprise for me (in the middle of a patch of dirt in the lawn) and they are really thriving! I added some calendula just yesterday before the rain and the kids and I picked out some plants for butterflies and hummingbirds at the farmer's market on Saturday!

Yesterday we made flubber. Great fun! Then Eva got out the cookie cutters and made different shapes with her volcano colored flubber.

Samuel had an idea to make a "Samuel Special" in the kitchen. Here is his recipe he concocted, in the order he added them to the bowl-
2 cups flour
1 egg
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup water (roughly)
Then he mixed them all together with a mixer and poured/scraped it into a cake pan. We baked it at 350 for about 30 minutes. It is cake-like so we added some frosting made of powdered sugar and water. Everyone enjoyed trying his creation but Eva enjoyed it the most. She ate three pieces! Samuel is hoping to make another creation soon and this time wants to add more ingredients to make it fluffier!

While the kids were making Samuel's Special, I made some brownies. Much going on in the kitchen today!

As I am sitting here typing this blog I can see out into the sky and look at some of the trees that fill our yard and the surrounding yards. Two great blue herons just flew past my window. They are amazing in flight, large wings, unmistakably great blue herons. I think they must be the ones nesting over in the park near our house. There is a marsh area and we have seen them in that area several times. Jack will go out and bark at them if he sees them fly by our house. He doesn't trust the ravens either!